I’m in Africa

I’m writing for the first time from the Southern hemisphere. After two days of travel, four flights, and six hours in a car, I’m finally at Sakeji School in Zambia. At the moment I’m sitting in the dining room of the lovely little house that I’ll be living in for the next three months.

It’s all still quite surreal. I just keep saying to myself, “I’m in Africa. This is Africa.” And I still don’t always believe it. During the last leg of my journey, we were in a car driving through some of the least populated parts of the country. It was just village after village separated by miles of wilderness. It was so strange to get those brief snapshots into the lives of the people who live there. Brick houses the size of my living room with metal roofs. Huts made of sticks. A woman getting water from a well. A boy walking a goat. Women carrying baskets or buckets on their heads. At times I had the sense that I was just watching a documentary. That I wasn’t really seeing it in real time. That I wasn’t really in Africa.

In many ways, it’s exactly like I expected. The villages look just like the pictures I’ve seen my whole life. And in other ways it’s nothing like I expected. And in every way it’s new.

The first thing both Hannah and I noticed when we stepped off the plane is the smell. Not a bad smell, but a new smell. And I don’t know why it struck me as so profound, but I can’t remember the last time a smell was new to me, at least not in the way that I can’t even compare it to something else. I have no name for it. It makes me wonder how many smells there are in the world that I’ve never smelled, that I can’t even imagine. And for all the pictures that I’ve seen of places around the world, I don’t have the slightest idea what they smell like. Sometimes the world seems so small, but right now it feels bigger than ever.

And I realize that even as I try to describe some of my experiences to you, they will fall flat much of the time. Because I can’t replicate something in words or even pictures in a way that will be totally real to you. You have experiences that I will never really understand. But I’m going to try to give you pictures of my life here because I’m just so excited to share what the Lord is doing here in Zambia. And I hope you will keep me updated on how He is working where you are, wherever that happens to be right now.

2 thoughts on “I’m in Africa

  1. Well said Beth. You’ll know you’re no longer a “foreigner” there when those sights and sounds seem as normal to you as the ones you grew up accustomed to.

  2. Love what you said about the smell. I came to Australia in summer, the winter was mild, but now that it’s spring again I am recognizing smells from when I first came here. It makes me feel like I might be able to belong here, for however short or long the time. Can’t wait to read more about the adventures you have in Africa.

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